Leveraging Parkinson's Law to Win

Parkinson’s law explains that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. This can be true for tasks in your career or your personal life. I previously published an article on how I used Kanban boards to help me with my relocation to the Tampa, Florida area. What I didn’t explain in the article was that I gave myself a three week window to get it done. Was this insane? Maybe… Was it very stressful to pull off in three weeks? Definitely! Now that I am on the other side of it, I’m glad I did it that way, because I am successfully relocated and the hardest part is over. I thought I would take a moment to reflect on how this strategy can be effective in work and life.

When my fiance and I decided we wanted to move, I gave hard thought to what was keeping us from doing so. We decided that the biggest factor holding us back was the fact that I was tied to a mortgage. We also agreed that the best way to sell the house was to get out of it and get it show ready. We kicked the idea around for a few months and on New Year’s we gave ourself a 90 day goal to get out of there. From there, we casually started to look for places to rent and in mid-January, we found the place that really suited us the best. We had a relative go visit the house for quality assurance, and from there I signed a lease with a start date of February 1st. Queue the ticking clock GIF…


Now before you jump to conclusions that I am crazy impatient (I am), I ROUGHLY had an idea of what it would take to pull it off. That’s when I set up a Trello Kanban board to plan the work flow of working through what was blocking us from getting this done and to set mini milestones as we worked through the process.

Workflow… blockers… milestones... This sounds like it has lots of parallels with web projects. If you're still with me, allow me to suggest that you give a hard look at setting realistic, shorter milestones for your projects. In my opinion this does two things:

  1. Hard deadlines prevent the project from dragging on and on.
  2. Shorter milestones help ramp up momentum at a faster rate.

I knew that if I gave myself three months to relocate, with the given group of tasks I had, it would have taken me all three months to do it. Are there limits to how short of a timeframe I could have handled? Without a doubt! I couldn’t have done it in one or two weeks (maybe I could have, but it would have been painful). My point is, whether it is a personal goal or a business goal, without deadlines and milestones we can’t be as effective as we could be.